Attending university in the Netherlands is a fantastic idea. With close proximity to the UK, an excellent financial situation, great teaching, lovely people and beautiful cities, there are so many reasons to study here. So get on your bike (Dutch students never get off them) and bag yourself an education in the Netherlands before it sinks into the North Sea forever.
The Dutch people are universally friendly and spirited, everyone speaks English, and the application process is straightforward and weighted to favour international applicants (basically if you’ve passed an A level or two you’re in). Tuition is low for EU students. Brits report that culture shock and general hassle is minimal. Support from university authorities is generally good, at least in terms of education, and teachers are very approachable. Some universities have set up a UK-specific recruitment team, and others will likely follow suit.
Apart from Maastricht and Groningen, though, there is still a shortage of full English-language bachelor degrees available at most of the top Dutch universities. You could consider applying to one of the Applied Sciences universities, many of which offer programs in English. Their courses are more vocational and geared towards preparing students for a particular profession; if this is what you’re looking for, they still offer all the bonuses of studying in Holland and may be an excellent choice. The trend is quickly moving towards a greater range of teaching in English, so watch for many unis to start offering a wider range of programs in the near future.
Another excellent and increasingly popular choice could be a "University College" - small, American-style liberal arts institutions affiliated with some of the country's top universities. British students are going mad for these things - check out our article here.
Windmills, clogs, tulips and canals – the Dutch turn a profitable tourist industry on these images, but don’t expect to encounter any of them as a student, apart from perhaps the ubiquitous and delightful canals. Also don’t expect a huge abundance of the other stereotypes (sex industry and drugs) – you’re likely to find more joints being smoked in a typical UK uni than anywhere in the Netherlands. Besides, alcohol is waaaay cheaper, dude.
Tuition costs in the Netherlands will set you back about €1700 per year. Dutch students get this more or less as a grant if they graduate within four years, but EU students are at least eligible for Dutch government loans (Collegegeldkrediet), repayable at the end of your studies.
You may also be eligible to receive extra financial aid if you work for 32 hours a month while you’re there. This will entitle you to grants of minimum €266 per month (possibly more, depending on parental income), extra loans that do not need to be repaid if you get good enough grades, and finally a free public transport pass for the whole country. Plus you get the small salary from whatever job you do. Most unis will help you find such employment opportunities, though be warned that many of them require at least passable Dutch language skills.
Students from low-income families may also be eligible for housing benefits to cover accommodation costs, which will require you to register with the Dutch immigration service (you don’t normally have to do this as an EU citizen).
Typical living costs for one year as a student in the Netherlands are estimated at €7000 - €9000, including accommodation. This seems on the high side, and it will probably be less if you don’t stay in the country for all 12 months of the year, or if you get a good deal on a flat-share. But do be prepared for high living costs if you study in Holland.
For an excellent source of information regarding studying in the Netherlands, check out www.studyinholland.co.uk – it has a guide to all programs offered in English and details about money, applications, admin and more. The IB-Groep is in charge of all things financial; most of their site is in Dutch, but some of the relevant pages are in English, especially their international visitors page: IB-Groep.nl/International Visitors.